Girls’ and Women’s Preferred Methods of Coping with Gender Bias in STEM

Rachael Robnett


Although gender bias is likely to present challenges for some girls and women in STEM fields, little is known about the coping methods that girls and women prefer to utilize when confronted with such bias. This merits additional study, given that coping responses have been linked to career-related outcomes. Hence, the current research was designed to examine the extent to which girls and women endorse various coping strategies in response to gender bias in STEM. Predictors of active versus passive coping strategies were also assessed. Participants included 328 girls and women who aspired to obtain STEM degrees. They were presented with a vignette describing gender bias that occurred within a STEM context. After seeing the vignette, participants rated their likelihood of utilizing eight forms of active and passive coping. Results indicated that active coping strategies (e.g., seeking support) were preferred to passive coping strategies (e.g., denial). Results also showed that coping varied on the basis of participant background characteristics, features of the educational context, and STEM-related beliefs. For instance, participants who were Asian American, Latina, or low in STEM value were especially likely to endorse passive coping strategies. Discussion focuses on implications for coping research and intervention.


coping; sexism; STEM; adolescence; emerging adulthood

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